Richie Cole (musician)

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Richie Cole
Born (1948-02-29) February 29, 1948 (age 71)
Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.
Years active1969–present
LabelsMuse, Palo Alto, Heads Up

Richie Cole (born February 29, 1948) is an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and arranger.

Early life[edit]

Cole was born in Trenton, New Jersey.[1] He started playing alto saxophone when he was ten years old, encouraged by his father, who owned a jazz club in New Jersey. He is a graduate of Ewing High School, in Ewing Township, New Jersey.[2][3] Cole won a scholarship from Down Beat magazine to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.


In 1969 he joined drummer Buddy Rich's Big Band. After working with Lionel Hampton's Big Band and Doc Severinsen's Big Band, he formed his own quintet and toured worldwide, doing a great deal to popularize bebop and his own "alto madness" style in the 1970s and early '80s. He formed the Alto Madness Orchestra in the 1990s.

Cole has performed and recorded with Eddie Jefferson, Nancy Wilson, Tom Waits, The Manhattan Transfer, Hank Crawford, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Kloss, Bobby Enriquez, Phil Woods, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, and Boots Randolph. He has recorded over fifty albums, including his top hit album Hollywood Madness (Muse, 1979) and his tribute album to Leonard Bernstein, Richie Cole Plays West Side Story (Music Masters, 1997).

He was appointed to the Board of the National Jazz Service Organization and the Board for the National Endowment for the Arts where he served as chairman for one year. He is a charter member of the International Association of Jazz Educators.

In 2005 he was awarded the State of California Congressional Certificate of Lifetime Achievement in Jazz on behalf of the Temecula Jazz Society.


As leader[edit]

  • Trenton Makes, the World Takes (Progressive, 1976)
  • Starburst (Adelphi, 1976) with Reuben Brown Trio
  • Battle of the Saxes (Muse, 1976) with Eric Kloss
  • New York Afternoon (Muse, 1977) with Eddie Jefferson
  • Alto Madness (Muse, 1978) with Eddie Jefferson
  • Keeper of the Flame (Muse, 1979) with Eddie Jefferson
  • Hollywood Madness (Muse, 1979) with Eddie Jefferson, The Manhattan Transfer
  • Side by Side (Muse, 1980) with Phil Woods
  • Cool 'C' (Muse, 1981)
  • Tokyo Madness (Seven Seas/King [Japan], 1981)
  • Alive! at the Village Vanguard (Muse, 1981)
  • Return to Alto Acres with Art Pepper (Palo Alto, 1982)
  • The 3 R's with Red Rodney, Ricky Ford (Muse, 1982)
  • The Wildman Meets the Madman with Bobby Enriquez (GNP Crescendo, 1982)
  • Yakety Madness! with Boots Randolph (Palo Alto, 1983)
  • Alto Annie's Theme (Palo Alto, 1983)
  • Some Things Speak For Themselves (Muse, 1983)
  • Bossa Nova Eyes (Palo Alto, 1985)
  • Pure Imagination (Concord Jazz, 1986)
  • Popbop (Milestone, 1987)
  • Signature (Milestone, 1988)
  • Bossa International with Hank Crawford (Milestone, 1990)
  • Profile (Heads Up, 1993)
  • Kush: The Music of Dizzy Gillespie (Heads Up, 1996)
  • West Side Story (Venus [Japan], MusicMasters, 1996)
  • Trenton Style (Jazz Excursion, 1998)
  • Pure Madness (32 Jazz, 1999) compilation
  • Come Sunday (Jazz Excursion, 2000)
  • A Tribute to Our Buddies (Fresh Sound, 2004)
  • Back on Top (Jazz Excursion, 2005)
  • A Piece of History (Jazz Excursion, 2006)
  • Rise's Rose Garden (Jazz Excursion, 2006)
  • The Man with the Horn (Jazz Excursion, 2007)
  • Live at KUVO 2/11/08 (Jazz Excursion, 2008)
  • Bebop Express (Jazz Excursion, 2008)
  • The KUVO Sessions, Volume 2 (Jazz Excursion, 2009)
  • Castle Bop with Emil Viklicky (Multisonic, 2011)
  • Vocal Madness with Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet (House Cat, 2014)
  • Breakup Madness (Akashic, 2014)
  • Mile Hi Madness (Akashic, 2015)
  • Pittsburgh (Richie Cole Presents, 2015)
  • Plays Ballads and Love Songs (Richie Cole Presents, 2016)
  • Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas (Richie Cole Presents, 2016)
  • The Many Minds of Richie Cole (Richie Cole Presents, 2017)[4][5][6]
  • Latin Lover (Richie Cole Presents, 2017)
  • Cannonball (Richie Cole Presents, 2018)
  • The Keys of Cool (Richie Cole Presents, 2019) with Tony Monaco

As sideman[edit]

With Greg Abate

  • Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Candid, 1995)

With Les DeMerle

  • You're the Bop! A Jazz Portrait of Cole Porter (Summit, 2001)

With Allan Harris

  • The Genius of Eddie Jefferson (Resilience Music Alliance, 2018)

With Jim Holman

With Freddie Hubbard

  • Back to Birdland (Real Time, 1982; Drive Archive, 1994; West Wind, 2002)

With Eddie Jefferson

With Vic Juris

With Peter Lauffer

  • Keys to the Heart (Peter Lauffer/CD Baby, 2010)

With The Manhattan Transfer

With Oliver Nelson

With Anita O'Day

  • Big Band at Carnegie Hall (Emily, 2009)

With Don Patterson

With Buddy Rich

  • Swingin' New Big Band/Keep the Customer Satisfied (Beat Goes On/BGO [UK] 1994)

With Red Rodney

With Janine Santana

  • Soft as Granite (Janine Santana/CD Baby, 2008)

With Sigmund Snopek III

  • Virginia Woolf (Gear Fab, 2000)

With Sonny Stitt

  • Just in Case You Forgot How Bad He Really Was [live; rec. 1981] (32 Jazz, 1998)

With James Van Buren

  • Live at the Kasbah (Van Buren Records and Tapes/CD Baby, 2003)

With Patrice Villastrigo

  • Golden Orchid (Skinny Llama/CD Baby, 2010)


  • From Village Vanguard [includes both the Johnny Griffin Quartet and the Richie Cole Group (his quintet) in two separate sets/performances; recorded 1981] (2004)
  • Eddie Jefferson in Concert Featuring Richie Cole: Live from the Jazz Showcase (2005)
  • Jazz Legends Live! – part 9 of 13 in this series, starring Dexter Gordon, Gary Burton, Billy Cobham, Ahmad Jamal, Carmen McRae, and Richie Cole (2005)


  1. ^ Provizer, Norman. "RICHIE COLE BRINGS SAX APPEAL TO VARTAN", Rocky Mountain News, April 4, 1996. Accessed March 25, 2012. "On his current CD, Kush: The Music of Dizzy Gillespie, alto saxophonist Richie Cole spends most of his time in the company of a large brass section.... Instead, the Trenton, N.J. native will be in a quartet setting for a live recording on the Vartan Jazz label."
  2. ^ Bailey, Marilynn E. "Cole Bebops Into Greatness", Evening Independent, December 2, 1978. Accessed March 25, 2012. "Cole says he was pleased when he learned he and Johneon had gone to the same high school — Ewing High — in Trenton."
  3. ^ Allmusic biography
  4. ^ "Discography – Richie Cole". Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Richie Cole | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Richie Cole". Discogs. Retrieved 2 May 2017.

External links[edit]